Three Irish women who were forced to travel to the UK to get an abortion due to Ireland’s total ban on the procedure challenged the ban in the European court of human rights earlier this week . While ‘the right to life of the unborn’ is enshrined in the country’s constitution, the women’s lawyers argued that Irish women’s rights to life, privacy and family life and to be spared discrimination and ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ are compromised by the ban:
The three women, known only as A, B and C, travelled to Britain to have abortions and claim their health was imperilled and that they were traumatised and humiliated by the Irish anti-abortion laws. “All three women complain that the impossibility for them to have an abortion in Ireland made the procedure unnecessarily expensive, complicated and traumatic. In particular, that restriction stigmatised and humiliated them and risked damaging their health and, in the third applicant’s case, even her life,” said a court statement.
Representing the women, Julie Kay told the 17 judges of the grand chamber that all three women had to borrow money to travel abroad for “clandestine” abortions and dismissed as bogus government claims that abortions were allowed in cases where the women’s lives were at risk. She said that pursuing the case in court in Ireland, as demanded by Gallagher, would have been “futile and costly”.
The court will not reach a decision until later next year. For the sake of the 5,000 Irish women who are forced to travel to the UK every year – not to mention those who cannot afford to do so, the women who are left with little to no control over their health and lives – let’s hope it’s the right one.